Robyn - Hang With Me (Official Video)

Written by MariaKajsa on 03.31

Robyn is releasing yet another single called "Hang With Me". This single is from the upcoming album Bodytalk pt. 2, which will be out on September 5th. It's a "typical" Robyn track, and I already have it on repeat!
You can find the acoustic version of this track on the album Bodytalk pt. 1.

Wall Street bail-out goes to vote

Written by MariaKajsa on 05.01

The US Congress is preparing to vote on a $700bn (£380bn) deal to bail out Wall Street and end the credit crunch.

President George W Bush has urged Congress to pass the bill quickly and send a strong signal to the markets.

He said the deal was a "bold" one which he was confident would restore strength and confidence to the US economy.

However, he cautioned that the bail-out would not answer all the economic woes and said that difficulties would last "for some time".

Speaking at the White House President Bush said: "I'm confident that this rescue plan, along with other measures taken by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve, will begin to restore strength and stability to America's financial system and overall economy."

But the agreement has done little to calm global stock markets, which have fallen sharply.

Financial services firms were still in trouble, with Benelux giant Fortis bailed out by three governments and the UK's B&B bank nationalised on Monday.

Every American has an interest in fixing this crisis - inaction would paralyse the economy
Harry Reid
Senate majority leader

"No one is taking any chances and we must wait until the vote to confirm [the bail-out deal] has passed," said Joshua Raymond of City Index.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the package as early as Monday. The fiercest resistance to the bail-out came from Republican politicians in the House, who scuppered an earlier outline deal agreed last Thursday.

Leaders of the US Senate are planning to put the the bail-out to a vote on Wednesday.

If approved by the Senate and House, the revised plan will lead to the biggest intervention in the markets since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Political timetable


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Time is of the essence, not only to end the logjam in financial markets, but also because of the election timetable in the United States.

US Congress was supposed to go into recess last Friday, and with presidential and congressional elections in early November, politicians are keen to hit the campaign trail with a resolution to the crisis under their belt.

The two candidates for the presidency, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, gave their cautious support for the proposed legislation.

The original bail-out package proposed by the US administration was deeply unpopular with many Americans.

During a weekend of negotiations, numerous clauses were added to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, designed to reassure taxpayers.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, said the agreement was "not a bailout of Wall Street", but designed to ensure pensions, savings and jobs would be safe.

Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid said the deal was a big improvement on the initial proposal.

"They wanted a blank cheque and we couldn't give them one... Now we have to get the votes."

No golden parachutes

The deal addresses several of the key concerns raised by both Democrats and Republicans:

  • The government will get the money in tranches - $250bn straight away, and $100bn at the request of the White House; Congress can veto the release of the remaining $350bn
  • Banks that accept bail-out money will have to hand over shares in return, which allows tax payers to benefit from the banks' recovery
  • Top bankers, meanwhile, will see their pay limited, and "golden parachutes" - huge payments when they leave the firm - will be banned
  • The banking industry will have to help finance the bail-out if the money can not be recovered from the struggling banks themselves
  • Four agencies will monitor the deal, including an independent Inspector General and a bipartisan oversight board
  • Banks will be obliged to join an insurance programme to protect them against the losses of mortgage-backed securities

The proposed legislation was now "frozen", said Ms Pelosi, which means critics can not strike out individual provisions that they do not like.

However, several key critics of the deal called on their fellow legislators to block it.

Financial woes

The Bush administration submitted its initial proposal after several financial institutions got into trouble - unable to free up the money to keep their daily business going.

The liquidity problems have not been limited to the US.

  • In the UK mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley was nationalised on Monday morning, with the savings part of the business to be sold to Spanish banking group Santander
  • The governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands agreed to invest 11.2bn euro in huge financial services group Fortis, in effect nationalising it.
  • Last week, in what was the largest US banking failure, Washington Mutual was taken over by regulators and sold on to JPMorgan Chase
  • Lehman Brothers collapsed, Merrill Lynch sought refuge in a takeover by Bank of America and Morgan Stanley secured a large capital injection from a Japanese rival
  • US insurance giant AIG had to be bailed out by the US government, which in effect took an 80% stake in the firm, while mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were nationalised.

The Real Costs of the Bailouts

Written by MariaKajsa on 05.35

Last week, as federal regulators seized Washington Mutual in the largest U.S. banking failure, Congress was grappling with whether to spend $700 billion of public money to fix the financial industry's troubles.

Lawmakers' initial reaction to the Treasury Department's staggering request: shock. That sum amounts to about a quarter of the U.S. government's annual spending. It's more than the Pentagon's annual budget, more than the nation pays out each year in Social Security benefits and more than the federal government's cost for Medicare and Medicaid.

[The Real Cost of the Bailout]

Members of Congress then asked the questions that continue to be on many Americans' minds:

  • How will the U.S. pay for this program and the previously announced aid to Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and American International Group? (The Washington Mutual seizure doesn't add to the U.S. tab because the bulk of WaMu's operations are being taken over by J.P. Morgan Chase without cost to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.)
  • And what will these efforts end up costing us all in taxes?

Part of the answer is known today but other aspects -- including the ultimate tab for these rescue programs -- may not be clear for years or even decades.

$1 Trillion Commitment

The total government commitment so far in its current and proposed bailouts: $1 trillion. But most of that money would give the government a claim on assets -- such as home mortgages and insurance operations -- that have actual value.

In each case, government officials took action because they believed the nation's financial system -- including banks where you deposit your money and Wall Street firms that run many markets -- risked a breakdown. Such a meltdown would make it harder for regular consumers and businesses to borrow money and make major purchases, putting a major dent in the $14 trillion U.S. economy.

[Piling Onto Uncle Sam's Lap]

The plumbing of the financial markets and economy "is all esoteric Wall Street stuff," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, a former college economics professor, explained to lawmakers last week. "It doesn't have any meaning to people on Main Street, but it connects very directly to their lives. If the credit system isn't working, then firms cannot finance themselves. People cannot borrow to buy a car, to send a student to college, to buy a house."

Most of the government's bailouts are tied to the housing-market slump and all the toxic mortgage loans and mortgage-backed securities held by banks and other financial institutions.

Biggest U.S. Bailout

In the rescue plan Congress was negotiating last week -- at $700 billion the biggest bailout in U.S. history -- a key goal is to remove much of those soured mortgage securities from banks' books, possibly through an auction system.

The government -- taxpayers, essentially -- would then hold those assets until they can be sold off in a more normal market once the economy and housing market recover.

A key point: The $700 billion would come from selling debt to the public, raising the total federal debt, which is approaching $10 trillion now.

But it's not direct government spending, which shows up as part of the U.S. budget. If the mortgage debt loses value over time, however, the U.S. would have to record those losses as spending. That could increase the budget deficit, which eventually must be offset by higher taxes or lower spending.

So taxpayers face the risk of losing some part of the $700 billion -- but could also turn a profit if the U.S. ends up selling those holdings for more than the purchase price.

First Up: Bear Stearns

The earlier rescue efforts also involve uncertainty about the ultimate cost to taxpayers. Back in March, the government worried that the failure of investment bank Bear Stearns would lead markets to fall apart globally. So it agreed to take on $30 billion worth of the firm's assets, including some of those bad mortgages, to help its new buyer, J.P. Morgan Chase.

The Federal Reserve plans to hold onto those assets for perhaps a decade before selling. J.P. Morgan will cover the first $1 billion in losses, if any. Taxpayers are highly unlikely to lose all $29 billion they have on the line, but could lose some of it.

Earlier this month, the action moved to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Because many investors assumed they were like public entities, the U.S. stepped in and took them over when the companies became too unstable to support the housing market by providing enough new mortgages.

The Treasury Department plans to inject up to $200 billion in capital into the firms. Some of that money may be lost because the firms' mortgage securities continue to lose value as home prices decline. But it's still unclear how much money taxpayers will kick in.

Less than 10 days later, the government stepped in again, to aid giant insurer AIG. The U.S. provided a loan of up to $85 billion. Half of that had been tapped by the middle of last week. But the terms were onerous: An interest rate above 11% and rights to an 80% government stake in the company.

AIG still has profitable insurance lines, and some of its businesses could be sold to pay the government back. So that bailout may not cost taxpayers anything directly.

With all these rescue efforts, even if the U.S. government profits after its expenses, there's still a broader unquantifiable cost: whether bailing out financial institutions and markets will create expectations for more taxpayer support down the road when Wall Street or big businesses get into trouble.

Government officials acknowledge that risk. But they say taxpayers are being helped in the long run because stronger financial markets will translate into more economic growth and higher tax revenue.

Write to Sudeep Reddy at

President Bush warns of bank failures, job massive losses in speech

Written by MariaKajsa on 05.03

Thursday, September 25th 2008, 1:35 AM


President Bush spoke in prime time Wednesday night over the state of the economy and the need for action.

In a formal address to the nation Wednesday night, President Bush warned of an onrushing financial catastrophe that will overwhelm Americans if Congress doesn't immediately okay his proposed $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

"We are in the midst of a serious financial crisis," Bush said. "Our entire economy is in danger."

Hoping to sway the millions of taxpayers who are balking at giving fat cats a handout, Bush painted a dire and very personal picture of the looming doom.

"More banks could fail, including some in your community," he said. "The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet."


He also warned of rising foreclosures, businesses collapsing, millions of people out of work and an end to loans for cars or school.

Bush said he understood that Americans are reluctant to foot the bill for the excesses of Wall Street and that it will be "a tough vote" for lawmakers to make.

"But given the situation we are facing, not passing a bill now would cost these Americans much more later," he said.

Even before he spoke, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican House leader John Boehner said they had made significant bipartisan progress on a bill that both sides initially had greeted with great skepticism.


Senate Democrats also reached a preliminary agreement on language with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), head of the House Financial Services Committee, said a draft bill would be presented to the Republicans today. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) expected a vote before the stock market opens Monday.

The $700 billion tab Bush asked for - the biggest in history - aims to calm the credit markets and shore up shaky banks by buying up their "toxic" bad debts.

In his speech, Bush pushed many of the additions that Democrats had already added to the bill, including provisions for taxpayers to get part of future profits and a bipartisan oversight board.


Paulson, who has been the administration's lead lobbyist for the bill, made an important concession when he reversed his strong opposition to limits on CEO pay.

Both parties said they could not back a rescue without curbs on executive pay - a sore point among constituents outraged at being asked to give handouts to the fat cats who made the mess in the first place and got rich doing it.

Last year, Fortune 500 CEOs took home an average paycheck of nearly $13 million - or about $40,000 a day, which is what the median American household makes all year.

"I agree we must find a way to address this in the legislation," Paulson said, abandoning his previous opposition to "punitive" pay limits.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was gaining support for his proposal to start off by okaying a far smaller bailout and wait to see if more is needed later.

In his speech, Bush recounted the credit crisis, blaming lenders for giving out too many loans, homeowners for taking them and investors for bundling them into securities. He made no mention of lax regulation and took no personal responsibility.

A Marist Poll found 68% of voters across the country think Congress should wait, but financial experts said action is desperately needed as soon as possible.

Lending his voice to the Cassandra chorus, billionaire investor Warren Buffett urged Congress to pass the bill by tomorrow.

"This isn't the time to vent your spleen. It's time to do something," he said on CNBC."This is sort of an economic Pearl Harbor."

Buffett put his money where his mouth is, sinking $5 billion into newly restructured Goldman Sachs, saying he wouldn't have done it if he weren't confident Congress would "do the right thing."

Political parties change stands on drilling, bailout

Written by MariaKajsa on 04.58

Democrats cave on energy; most in GOP reverse on Wall Street

WASHINGTON — In a dazzlingly short span of days, Democrats and Republicans each have caved on a core issue.

Bowing to pressure by Republicans, Democratic congressional leaders agreed last week to let the 26-year-old congressional ban on offshore oil- and natural-gas drilling expire Tuesday, when the fiscal year ends.

The move has angered environmentalists, a key constituency for Democrats.

"The environmental community is united in its opposition to drilling," said Anna Aurilio, who heads the Washington office of Environment America, which represents groups in 26 states. "There is no need to open our coasts to drilling."

At the same time, President Bush, Republican presidential nominee John McCain and Republican congressional leaders are pushing their party peers to pass a massive financial-services bailout that would dwarf any government program since the New Deal.

That prospect is infuriating fiscal conservatives and small-government activists who underpin the Republican Party.

"This may be your last chance to protect taxpayers and our economy from what could be the greatest fiscal policy fiasco in our nation's history," Pete Sepp, a policy analyst with the National Taxpayers Union, a Washington group that tracks federal spending, wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

Beyond their control

With elections less than six weeks away, is this any way for senators and representatives to treat their parties' most fervent loyalists?

Political analysts say lawmakers are being buffeted by events largely beyond their control.

"Necessity is the mother of invention," said Andrew Busch, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in California.

"Democrats are getting pushed hard on drilling because people really don't like paying $4 a gallon for gasoline," Busch said. "And Republicans are getting pushed hard because however much they may dislike this bailout, it's not clear that there's any alternative other than letting the financial system spin into further disaster."

Permitting expanded drilling is a more dramatic turnaround for Democrats than allowing some form of financial rescue is for Republicans, Busch said.

"At very few points has the Bush administration been very interested in fiscal restraint," he said. "This (bailout) has a bigger price tag, and it's a more visible issue, but it's just an exaggerated version of how Republicans in Congress have been accommodating themselves to Bush for the duration of his presidency."

Just wait a minute

Republican fiscal conservatives in the House and Senate have tried to stop or rein in the $700 billion rescue package.

"This massive bailout is not a solution," said Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. "It is financial socialism, and it's un-American."

But aides to some of the fiscal hawks who oppose the bailout concede that it likely will pass in some form, though with restrictions added by lawmakers such as increased congressional oversight and compensation limits for the executives of firms helped by the program.

Momentum to approve at least the outline of a deal gained speed after Bush addressed the nation Wednesday and joined an extraordinary meeting Thursday afternoon of congressional leaders from both parties and their presidential candidates.

McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, stopped campaigning and returned to Washington to attend the political summit.

Handling a bad hand

Rep. John Spratt, a South Carolina Democrat and chairman of the House Budget Committee, said he doesn't fear political fallout from constituents over lifting the drilling ban.

"My environmental record is pretty strong to start with, and one exceptional vote is not going to mar the record," he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Spratt said, "was trying to make the best out of a bad hand that was dealt her." She oversaw an energy bill, passed by the House, which along with the green light for drilling has good provisions such as directing oil and gas royalties to pay for development of renewable energy sources, he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican up for re-election in November, said he's well aware that his support for the bailout package will anger some constituents.

"Taxpayers should be upset, but it's not my job to just echo people being mad," he said. "I believe that the problem being described is real, dramatic and dire. We don't have the luxury of kicking this can down the road like we did with immigration and Social Security reforms."